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UMass basketball trying to feed Rashaan Holloway more

  • UMass’ Rashaan Holloway, seen here against Holy Cross last month, must be more involved moving forward according to coach Matt McCall. Holloway attempted just two shots against La Salle in the Minutemen’s loss Saturday at the Mullins Center.



Staff Writer
Monday, January 07, 2019

AMHERST — A travesty was the best way UMass coach Matt McCall could describe Rashaan Holloway’s offensive stat line Saturday against La Salle.

The big man attempted only two shots — making both of them — and was fouled on one other layup attempt. He went unnoticed most of the time when the Minutemen had the ball by not even earning touches for him to distribute the ball to teammates.

It was a fact that McCall kept harping on after the game and said it deserved a deeper dive in the film room. But it didn’t take much time watching tape for sophomore guard Carl Pierre to diagnose the problem.

“Us guards have to look down there more,” Pierre said. “I feel like we’re kind of overlooking him sometimes. He’ll be open in the post and we’re not giving it to him. We need to do a much better job of just getting the ball to him because he’s the biggest player in the country, and he’s just unstoppable down there, so we need to give him touches.”

Holloway is a game-changer for the Minutemen in the post with his sheer size and has proven to be an offensive spark plenty of times. He scored 18 points in just 13 minutes against Fairleigh Dickinson last month to spark a comeback victory, one of seven times in the non-conference slate he made at least 70 percent of his attempts.

He admitted his lack of involvement on offense Saturday frustrated him, but said he knows it takes a complete team effort for him to have success.

“I’m not going to sit here and say I’m happy that they missed me in the post and I’m OK with it,” Holloway said. “But we need to work together as a team. I can’t dwell on it if they miss me, I just need to keep working hard to try to get my touches the best that I can.”

One way Holloway said he could help himself is to become more vocal in the post with his teammates. He said he wants to be more forceful in requesting the ball when he has position on his defender, and that should help open up the rest of the offense for his teammates.

“I just got to demand the ball more, show my presence and seal off my man more,” Holloway said. “(Against) La Salle, we didn’t run offense that well, and it caused me to not have any shots, it caused people to miss shots they normally make because of the rotation and the rhythm is off. If I seal off my man and call for the ball the way I’m capable of doing it, I’ll get my touches.”

In McCall’s self-study, he saw several reasons why Holloway didn’t get many touches against La Salle. He said there were moments when UMass’ guards missed him when he was open and other times when they had chances to utilize him more within sets.

But the second-year coach also said the fifth-year senior could also help himself more by trying to get involved in the offense earlier in the shot clock.

“Rashaan has got to make the game easier for himself by screening and doing his work early and getting post position early,” McCall said. “Did we miss him a couple of times? Yes. Should we have thrown it back to him on pick and rolls a couple of times and gone inside to him? Yes. But I ran 10 or 11 different actions for him where our guys know if we run this play, we’re trying to go inside to Rashaan.”

One of the more effective ways teams have denied Holloway thus far has been to apply pressure on UMass’ guards when they have the ball. La Salle did just that to the Minutemen’s backcourt and were successful at deflecting away passes meant for Holloway or denying the guards the chances to even pass the ball inside.

Pierre said it is important UMass stays composed when that pressure arrives and continues to run its actions on offense, something the Minutemen failed to do in the second half against the Explorers. But he also said the team as a whole needs to realize the importance of Holloway touching the ball in the post to the success of the offense as a whole.

“We just have to stay steady,” Pierre said. “Teams will try to get up and pressure and speed us up, but we just have to do a good job at staying steady and just playing within ourselves. (We) need to realize the more touches he gets, the easier it is for us to operate. That’s something we all need to realize and capitalize on more.”

HOCKEY NOTES — UMass remained at No. 2 in the national polls in the first rankings of 2019.

The Minutemen received 22 first-place votes and 964 points in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll and were edged out for the top spot by St. Cloud State’s 968 points and 25 first-place votes. They took home 12 first-place votes in the USA Hockey poll to remain No. 2 in that ranking as well.

Freshman Marc Del Gaizo was named the Hockey East Rookie of the Week for the first week in January after tallying a power play goal and three assists in the Minutemen’s 6-1 triumph over American International. The defenseman is the sixth different UMass player to earn a weekly honor from the conference this season.